There was a time when the devastatingly sexy Ethan Chandler left Marigold Chance blushing and tongue-tied but thankfully, that's all in the past. Now that the ice-cool international yachtsman has sailed smoothly back into her life, she's determined to show him that the ugly duckling's become a thoroughly modern swan--a beautiful, driven businesswoman with no time for him!
Yet Ethan seems equally determined to ruffle her perfectly groomed feathers and show her what she's been missing out on....
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Harlequin Enterprises, Limited
April 01, 2012
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Excerpt from The Boy Is Back in Town by Nina Harrington
Marigold Chance scrolled through the images on her digital camera with her thumb, and cringed. Of all the crimes against photography she had ever committed for her sister Rosa, of which there had been many, the past few hours had been a low point.
Mari might be forgiven for the portrait of the dry cleaner's miniature dachshund in a cute beaded princess sweater, or even the popcorn-puff hooded jacket Rosa had made for the hairdresser's Pekinese. But persuading the newsagent's fox terrier to pose with a knitted plaid waterproof raincoat with the name 'Lola' in gold chain stitch on the back was the last straw.
Her sister Rosa had a lot to answer for.
'Oh, you are such a genius.' Rosa grabbed the sleeve of Mari's coat and squealed so loudly that two elderly ladies in the street looked across in alarm. Mari gave them a smile and a small wave with the hand that was not firmly in the fierce grip of her sister, the budding internet entrepreneur, who was wrestling to see the back of the camera.
'Lola looks amazing. You see? I knew it would be useful to have an IT expert in the family one day. You told me how important it was to have great visuals on the website you made for me and now I have. It was hard work but so worth it.'
Mari snorted in reply and lifted the camera out of her sister's reach. 'You spent most of the time lying on the floor playing with the puppy and feeding her treats. I was the one doing the hard work.'
Rosa waggled her fingers at her dismissively. 'What can I say? Some of us are blessed with the creative touch. Animal models are hard to find in the world of Swanhaven pet fashion and Lola wasn't too keen on posing for more than a few seconds. I think bribery is acceptable in the circumstances. After all, it's not often my big sister has a chance to be a fashion photographer for the day. The least I could do was sacrifice my dignity in the name of your future career. You might need that extra line on your resume one day soon.'
Mari sighed and gave her head a quick shake. 'I should never have told you that my department is laying off technical staff. I'm fine. Seriously. There are lots of hardware engineers who want to take the package and do other things with their lives, but not me. I love what I'm doing and don't plan to change any time soon.'
'Urn.. fine. Right. Is that why you were looking for IT jobs around Swanhaven on the internet this morning?'
'Hey!' Mari play poked Rosa in the arm. 'Were you spying on me, young lady? I can see behind that sweet innocent face, you know.' Mari paused for a moment and decided to give Rosa a half version of the truth. 'I wanted to compare the freelance rates in dorset compared to California, that's all,' she replied with a smile and shrug. 'Things have certainly changed a lot in the years since I last lived here. Apparently there's Wi-Fi in the yacht club. Could this really be possible?'
And the moment the words had left her mouth, Mari instantly felt guilty about not telling her only sister the full truth. But she couldn't reveal her secret just yet, no matter how much she was looking forward to seeing the look on Rosa's face when she broke the news that she was buying back their childhood home. Rosa had been inconsolable when their little family of women had been evicted from the home where they'd once been so happy, and Mari knew how much she'd wanted to live there again.
But she couldn't even hint that the house could be theirs until she was certain that everything was in place.
Rosa was sensitive enough to pick up that Mari was worried about her job security and with good reason. Mari Chance had been the provider in this family since the age of sixteen, when their father had left and their mother floundered in grief and despair.
It had been Mari's decision to sacrifice her dreams of university so that she could leave school as soon as she could to work for a local business and become the breadwinner for Rosa and their mother. And she felt even more responsible now that Rosa was on her own and she had a high-flying job with a salary to make sure that Rosa was taken care of. Even if it did mean that they were apart--her sister had to come first before anything that Mari wanted in her own life.
Rosa was the only person in Mari's life who she truly trusted but this was one time when she wasn't ready to open up and share her fears and dreams for the future. She had worked too hard to give Rosa hope, only to see it replaced with bitter disappointment.
Luckily her sister was distracted by a lovely spaniel who dared to be out in the cold air without one of her knitted coats and, spotting a potential customer, Rosa pulled Mari closer and whispered, 'See you back at the cottage. I'm on a mission. Bye for now. Oh--and thanks again for the photographs. I knew I could rely on you. We'll talk more later.' And with that, she released Mari all in a rush and scampered off in the direction of the spaniel, her hand already in her pocket looking for dog treats.
'You're welcome, sweetie,' Mari replied in a low whisper nobody was going to hear as she watched Rosa laugh and smile with the spaniel's lady owner. 'You know you can always rely on me.'
Marigold Chance was never the girl called for sports teams or talent contests. She'd left that to her brilliant older brother Kit and her little sister Rosa. Both extroverts to the core. No, Mari was the person who'd stayed in the background and made the teas and watched the other people having fun. Usually at events she had organised and made happen. Every family needed a Mari to keep things working behind the scenes to make sure that everyone was safe and well and had what they needed. No matter how great the personal cost.
Especially in times of crisis when the whole world fell apart.